Thaddeus W. Usowicz
October 2nd, 1943 – October 7th, 2015
Thaddeus unexpectedly passed away with his family at his side on the night of October 7, 2015 from a severe infection. He said that his biggest success was his family so it is fitting that the last people with him were his son and wife. They are both forever grateful for the opportunities that Thaddeus gave them; their accomplishments are also his accomplishments. He will be missed and loved always.
Thaddeus was very proud of his Polish heritage. His father’s family had been in Poland for hundreds of years until the events of World War Two displaced them. After the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, Thad’s father was sent as a prisoner of war to a Soviet Gulag to work as a slave laborer in a lumber camp. His mother and her family were deported to Siberia as political prisoners for being the family of a Polish officer along with 2 million other Poles and barely survived the hardships of starvation and the cold climate. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 Thaddeus’s family received a general amnesty from Stalin. At that point, his family left Russia via Asia and ended up in the Middle East where many of them fought with the free Polish forces in the British 8th Army. Thaddeus was born in a refugee camp in Tel Aviv in 1943 after his parents were reunited. After the war ended, his family immigrated to the United States in 1947 since it was dangerous for them to return to a then Communist controlled Poland. His mother and father eventually bought a house and settled in Bayonne, NJ. Thaddeus was very proud of the contributions that his family had made to freeing Europe from Nazi tyranny but also shared his family’s resentment in them not being able to return to a safe and free Poland after fighting in World War Two.
During childhood, Thaddeus excelled in catholic schools, attended Marist High School where he ran track and field and received his nickname, “Spike”, for the spiked cleats that runners wore. He went to study at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (class of 1965) for 6 years where he received a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and two master’s degrees in Management Science, Operations Research and Transportation Planning. At MIT and in Boston his made many life-long friendships.
After finishing college, Thaddeus was drafted and served as a captain in the US Army’s Ordinance Corps from 1969-1971. In Vietnam, he ran the largest supply operation for the US Army in the country and received a non-combative bronze star for his work in making his supply operation more efficient. After leaving active service, he continued to be in the US Army Reserves for many years and retired with the rank of Major.
Thaddeus travelled behind the Iron Curtain to Poland in 1968 looking for relatives of his family that may have survived World War Two. While travelling, he stayed at a home of a childhood friend of his father’s in Wroclaw where he met Anna, his future wife. This would start a nearly five decade long relationship.
In 1974, after a 6-year long courtship, Thaddeus and Anna got married. In 1987, they had their first son, Michal, whom Thaddeus said was his biggest accomplishment.
After settling in San Francisco for a PhD program at University of California-San Francisco, he worked with the transportation department for 5 years, providing cost analysis for BART system as a Capital Improvements Program engineer. At this time, he was working on developing a BART connection to San Francisco International Airport.
In late 1980s he enrolled in a doctoral program in University of California-San Francisco and received another master’s degree and doctorate in Medical Information Science in 1991.
Thaddeus started working at San Francisco State University in 1983 and continued working there up to the day he fell ill. At SFSU, he eventually rose to be a tenured Associate Professor in the College of Business. There he is credited with many professional publications, participated in many international conferences, and was a guest lecturer in other countries. Two Fulbright scholarships were awarded to him for Poland and Hungary. He received Senior Fulbright Lecturer award and taught at the University of Pannonia in Veszprem, Hungary and the University of Economics, Poznan, Poland. He always remembered his Fulbright time fondly as being some of the happiest time in his teaching career. He was also active in Northern California Chapter of the national Fulbright Association.
He was also a member of Polish American Congress in Northern California and Polish American Engineers Club.
He is survived by his wife Anna and son Michal.
The funeral will be held at Nativity of Our Lord Church, 240 Fell Street (at Gough), San Francisco on October 24th, 2015 at 11am. A reception will be held at Cafe Delle Stelle, 395 Hayes Street (at Gough) at 12:30pm until 3:30pm.
- This is an obituary written by Thad’s son, Mike, and his wife, Anna.